Flip the switch

But his (Naaman’s) servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet (Elisha) has spoken to you; will you not do it?  Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash and be clean?’ “- 2 Kings 4:23

As Kyle Idleman concludes Chapter 4 of AHA, he tells the story of a time when a handyman came to hang a light fixture in the Idleman’s kitchen.  When the work was completed, the handyman went to flip the switch.  Nothing happened.  Rewiring didn’t solve the problem.  Eventually, Kyle realized that the handyman wasn’t flipping the right switch.  So Kyle walked over to flip the correct switch.  The light came on.

Sometimes when we’re in the midst of adversity, we need a Christian friend with a healthy perspective to flip the switch- to tell us the truth.  That happened to Naaman in the Old Testament.  Afflicted with leprosy, he came to the prophet Elisha prepared to earn his healing.  Naaman pictured his healing going down in a grandiose way- not a simple bathing in the Jordan River.  His servants pointed out the simple truth: just trust.

Pastor Idleman notes that often we are the last ones to see the hard truth in our lives.  In addition, even in our close relationships, we tend to speak 95% of the truth.  But what needs to be said is that last 5 percent!

Today’s question: What resulted when a trusted Christian friend took time to flip the switch in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Brutal honesty”

Holy contentment in the moment

As Mary DeMuth continues Chapter 7 of The Wall Around Your Heart, she cautions that if you’re an all-or-nothing person (as the author tends to be), one small mistake can open the door for widespread failure the rest of the day!  For example, if you give in to anger, you’re likely to throw up your hands and continue angry responses throughout the day.  Mary notes that rooted in an all-or-nothing mind-set is a strange form of perfectionism.  If you can’t be perfect, you might as well fail completely.

A second problem with an all-or-nothing mind-set is falling into the trap of pride and arrogance, seeing yourself as superior to those directly/indirectly responsible for your ministry downsizing or vocation loss.  This, Mary stresses, is not the daily help Jesus wants to give us.  Jesus wants us to become patient, kind, and long-suffering.   Part of asking for what we need is finding balance within this mind-set.

We must seek a holy contentment for today.  As Mary points out, we’re called to follow Jesus, not have an unholy curiosity about others:

“We’re called to follow Jesus in the Great Right Now.  Wherever He leads.  Wherever He takes us.  Whenever He calls.  However He wants.  In whatever manner He deems.  We are called to look away from others and look toward Jesus.  The nourishment He gives us is contentment in the moment that we are uniquely us, not them.”

Today’s question:  What kinds of all-or-nothing mind-sets have you experienced following your vocation loss?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Christian perfection”

Cascading grace

“Freely you have received, freely give.”- Mathew 10:8 (NIV)

“Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace.”- Karl Barth

In Chapter 9 (“Unscrooged Hearts”) of Grace, Max Lucado tells how bridal shop owner Amy Wells gave grace to a dying man.  That man, Jack Autry, had been hospitalized because he was in the final stages of melanoma.  His daughter Crystal was in town to shop for a wedding dress.  When Crystal had picked out her dress, she told Amy about her father.  Without hesitation, Amy told Crystal to go to the hospital and model the dress for her father.  Amy never asked for a credit card or a phone number.  Amy’s generosity had created a moment of cascading grace- from God to Amy to Crystal to Jack.

Pastor Lucado states that 2 Corinthians 9:10 illustrates the extent of God’s overflowing grace: “He (God) supplies seed to the sower and bread for food.”  Max notes that the Greek word for “supplies”, epichoregeo, combines “dance” with the verb “to lead”.  In other words, when God gives, He dances for joy.  Or, as only Max can phrase it:

“He (God) dispenses his goodness not with an eyedropper but a fire hydrant.  Your heart is a Dixie Cup, and his grace is the Mediterranean Sea.”

Today’s question: During your desert, transition period, what opportunities have you had to extend God’s grace to others?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The Sonshine of God’s Love”

The Peacemaker

The Peacemaker, Third Edition (Baker Books, 2004)

The peacemaker approach to resolving conflict centers around what Ken Sande refers to as the Four G’s:

Glorify God

Get the log out of your own eye

Gently restore

Go and be reconciled

The Four G’s are undergirded  by the foundational G, the Gospel.  The Gospel makes it possible for Christians to put the Four G’s into practice.

While Ken Sande’s techniques specifically are tailored to conflicting mindsets, these techniques are equally applicable if the only conflict you can resolve is the one in your own heart.

Forgiveness is a key component embedded in the Four G’s.    Ken Sande reminds us of that responsibility in our Christian walk by citing the convicting words of an unknown author: “Unforgiveness is the poison we drink, hoping others will die.”